Joy and Affliction

Readings: Psalm 90, 2 Samuel 7:18-29, Revelation 22:12-16

“Make us glad according to the days Thou hast afflicted us. . .”  — Psalm 90:15

In January this year, I decided to take a different tack from the usual making of resolutions ritual.  Instead, I chose to adopt a one word action plan as presented at My word for 2015 has been Joy.

Holding Joy in my consciousness has produced interesting manifestations and awarenesses.  I included it in an oft-used computer password, a practice that helped me experience it multiple times a day as a gentle reminding mantra.  I created a Joy board on Pinterest and was surprised by the images that came to me in response to that concept.  For example, who knew the color orange connotes joy for me or that viewing images of a lone canoe beached on a shore or running water out of a spigot would make me feel joyful?

Mostly, however, I found Joy this year as an offshoot out of misery.  Far from that being paradoxical, it has seemed organic.  Referencing the above Scripture, I wonder how glad I have been in my afflictions.

My son became seriously ill and was, after a few weeks of experiencing progressively more concerning symptoms, diagnosed with Addison’s Disease, a life threatening condition if untreated.  This challenge came right as he was finishing up his senior year in high school preparatory to graduating.  For a couple months, we were deeply worried that he might not make it to that most tremendous rite of passage.  Graduation, a time of Joy for families, became a secondary goal to surviving.

After the surviving component (the affliction) was ultimately successfully medically addressed, then it was possible to focus on the Joy of our son’s graduation.  This Joy was enhanced by the emotional relief of having just come out the other side of dark times.

All of which leaves me wondering . . . have I been glad for the opportunity to experience Joy augmented by tribulation?  Would my son’s graduation have been as emotionally sweet for me it it hadn’t been threatened just as he and we were coming down the finish line of his educational race?  Did it feel like a greater accomplishment — an event worthy of eliciting true Joy — because of the weeks of emotional pain and suffering that preceded it?

Please accept my contribution to today’s blog as a reminder that pain often is a precursor to Joy.  Babies arrive after labors that involve pain, blood, and the physical violence of hard pushing.  They don’t just float in on a cloud.  Soldiers returning from war zones find enhanced pleasure in simple day-to-day activities such as sitting quietly drinking a cup of coffee, not under imminent attack from anything or anyone.

Joy can, and often does, arise out of distress.  Rather than throwing so much energy into trying to head misery off at the pass which, in my experience, never works anyway since it just charges its way on in, I’m trying to learn how to embrace it.  It had many lessons to teach me this year and, truthfully, because I went through it (not around, up, down, under, or over it) I came out the other side and was able to feel heightened Joy.  I was, if not glad, at least accepting that I had been afflicted.

No doubt future hardships await my experience.  I will try to receive them with wisdom, recognizing them as opportunities for learning and eventual Joy.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

Offered by Jill Fredrickson, teacher, mother, child of God.


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I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

3 thoughts on “Joy and Affliction”

  1. Thanks, Jill, for your words. I doubt many of us get too far along in life without affliction, and it’s good to remember that Joy may come along with it. Peace, Johnna

  2. Wonderful message, Jill. Psalm 30 is one of my favorites because the psalmist reminds us that “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Thank YOU for reminding me of this.

    1. Wonderful message. Thank You! I’ve tried to deny the fact of affliction in my life and have learned not going through the process also denies the gift of joy and leaves the empty lacking hole in my soul. Thank you again.

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